Tag Archives: crime

Review: Serpent’s Smile

(Sick writer was sick, I’m back now though!)

Serpent’s Smile is the latest in the Heaven’s Heathens series, and this time we’re staying close to home. Charged by her grandfather to investigate rumors of another gang moving something through Jasper around their town’s Founders Day celebration, most of the action is centered around Savannah as she takes lead on an unofficial (but really, this is Jasper, it’s pretty official just not on the books) investigation into the other gangs’ around town and their activity. Meanwhile, Gideon is still feeling out his place in the pack, and gets exasperated pretty quickly with the new meat syndrome going on. Savannah proves to be a welcome distraction to all that, and a helpful instigator if needed. Whoever thought it was a good idea to try and move product under the Heathen’s noses obviously didn’t know who they were messing with. But then again, we’re talking about a motorcycle club of werewolves–they rarely do.

Character-wise, I think we see a lot of serious growth in this book. While the backstory of the prior two books gives it more emotional impact on the reader, without it there is still a payout as far as actions taken and the characters changing (the impact is just maybe not as strong). Most of the main protagonist characters are familiar to us at this point, not only Savannah and Gideon but also Frankie and the rest of the foursome, Eberon and Corey, Violet, and several others. We even see Boone from the prior book again! It made me snicker. While the core of these characters remains the same, so it wouldn’t matter in which order I read the three books, because I did read them, some things hit me harder, like Frankie and her love triangle, and we finally get some payoff with Gideon and Savannah. (Only a little, because what’s a little lighter fluid on a building inferno of a slow burn relationship, right?)

The world building and the new characters sort of dove-tail together in this one. We’ve got some expanding upon the conflict between Savannah and her people and Ashley and her group, which is all well and good. And likely leading to some huge stand-off later, sort of like Captain America vs. Iron Man in the Civil War arcs. Right now, we’re at the petty bickering and claiming of territory stage…sort of like in the first Avengers film. I can see the beginning elements and conflicts though that are going to lead to hell later. We also filled in some of who is going to be standing on either side of that conflict…as well as a few who are probably going to stay firmly in the middle rather than get drawn in unless they can help it.

But you’ve also got new characters in the forms of the rival gangs that Savannah is poking her wolfy nose into. The Indian reservation gang is ruled out pretty quickly, but we get two new ones: an Italian run gang and then a primarily black gang. This could easily fall into the trap of racial stereotyping and obviously some other things that should be avoided, right? But many of those stereotypes exist for a reason, and as long as they aren’t the only aspect to the characters, and those aren’t the only POC in the book, I am okay with it. Ginny has a wide variety of characters in her cast, so that isn’t a problem, and there is just enough added to the rival gangs that I don’t think they are completely problematic as they could be. I’m hopeful that this isn’t the last we see of these characters, because if they are built up even more, it will continue to waylay those concerns.

That leads me to the plot, which is a bit different than usual. Yes, there’s still lots of the great character moments that help drive the narrative and speed the reading of the book, but the action isn’t in segments set in particular stages. Rather, there is more of a build and escalation to it, much like what you see in more of a normal book than an action movie, or maybe a combination of both since there are some moments that I could see being shot more like an action scene than it reads. Either way, the flow is just different enough that if you read all three together, it shakes you up a bit so it still feels fresh for you, and yet if you are reading out of order, it still fits with the other books in the series. (Also, I love a lot of the events in the final act, I spent a lot of time giggling.)

There is a little bit crime procedural, a little bit action movie to this one, and I like the change of pace. I also liked that we were given at least a little tidbit to make the long wait to Gideon and Savannah figuring themselves out easier for us to handle, and the fleshing out of upcoming confrontation and existing characters. While there are areas that could be taken wrong, I think they were handled okay and shouldn’t detract from the story at all, especially if further expansion on those characters happens.


Review: Criminal Minds Season 13 Episode 17

I have discovered something, the past couple years. Namely, that I am incapable of watching and keeping up with a show for an entire season. So that leaves me with limited options. Either I binge the season once it’s over, which is a waste of a weekend if I have a full weekend to spare, or I find a show that doesn’t require me to see every single episode of what’s going on, without getting completely episodic. Criminal Minds is a perfect example of the latter.

That being said, they made a grave mistake. The episode last week was in my home town. This is going to get ugly.

(Note: This is not a serious review of the show as a whole, it’s too long and much like Law and Order: SVU, I have mixed feelings on later seasons. I might do it as a series or something at some point, but not right now.)

So I didn’t even make it three minutes in. The first victim pulled up to his house, and I was like, “Okay, I might buy there being a house like that on the north side of Guymon. Maybe. But where do you think we have that many trees?” Fun fact: the Panhandle has SOME trees, but it’s mostly in residential areas, and between the drought and ice storms, a lot of those were dead and chopped down by the city.

…The clown under the bed did scare the crap out of me, not gonna lie.

I’m curious where the BAU flew INTO. There isn’t an airport in Guymon, the closest they could get is either Liberal (doubtful) or Amarillo (more likely), and either way, you are in the car for at least another 45 minutes or two hours. But we skip that, “who doesn’t have an airport, pbbbth…”

We see an overview shot of Guymon, and it’s this neatly spaced out grid, small town, fancy admin-type building, and I’m like, “Uh, no.” I based Imyl off of Guymon, okay, and it is STILL too neatly laid out, I am not even joking. Guymon is an illogical sprawl of a place, and Main Street is very tightly packed in terms of space…sort of. (Okay, the big municipal building is on a block by itself, but it is SOLID BRICK, none of this fancy molding.) What boggled me the most though, was the literal street. Guymon is famous (or infamous) for Main Street being brick. Not pavement, not any type of concrete. Brick.

It’s becoming painfully obvious that no one has done their research, here.

The inside of the police station and the hospital got a pass, I’ve never been in one and the other was close enough. But then we get the second victims. Another nice house. More trees. I’m sorry, maybe I’m biased because I (literally) grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Guymon, but come on! We are not that well off!

Finally, it’s winding down. They are getting enough clues, we are seeing bits of our villains–yes, clowns, circus life fell apart. Okay, fine. I’m even going in my head, “I can think of a couple of fairs, they could maybe get work there?” But nope. We go…rodeo? I’m sorry, someone actually thinks rodeo clowns are actually clowns? Oh honey, no. No, no, no. Trust me, they are not the same thing at all, and being a good clown in no way preps you for what a rodeo clown does. Rodeo clowns are, predominantly, bull wranglers on the ground. Just bad, bad, bad, bad. Someone is going to get hurt.

But we’re going to a rodeo! Guymon has one of the largest outdoor rodeo arenas in the country, Pioneer Days literally is a HUGE DEAL in Guymon (we haven’t seen hide or hair of it, but I will give them leeway), and it goes on for a full week if not longer depending on slack, surely this will be right.

We go to this piddly little arena that I swear could barely host my play-days. Just, just, what is this, I don’t even! And underground rodeo, whaaa? I’ve never heard of this. People hosting roping events for some cash or running play-days, sure, but no one pretends these are rodeos. There’s no point when there’s a huge friggin’ rodeo every year! Color me boggled. (Ginny, btw, was laughing at me by this point.)

At this point, I was very obviously done. Did the ending make me sniffle? Of course it did. But I didn’t see anything really tying it to Guymon, and they definitely didn’t do their research beyond some cursory scans for stuff they could use in the show.

If nothing else, this really disenchanted me with the newer seasons. I swear, the older ones weren’t this dumb. Or at least I hope they weren’t.

Review: The Dresden Files 4–Summer Knight

Warning: Rant ahead.

Summer Knight pretty much takes the ending established in Grave Peril and trashes it. Rather than sort-of coping with the help of his friends, Harry is instead drowning in his depression over Susan. It takes one of the Fairy Queens ordering him on a job (there is no options) and the Council’s threats of killing him over the war between them and the vampire Red Court to snap him back into his groove. What follows is a tangle of trying to figure out what is truth (not easy when dealing with fairies) and taking steps to prevent the next great weather shift, be it an Ice Age or the kind of plant growth that is deadly for the human race. Oh, and not being assassinated. That last one is important.

Before the rant begins, let me be at least a little kind. Butcher finally found the right balance to how much information we as the reader needs to stay equal with Harry on the detective/private investigator side of the book but not to get ahead of him. I didn’t feel like Harry was making wild leaps in logic that I couldn’t see every few seconds, but I also wasn’t about to throw the book because Harry was missing something glaringly obvious. This is a huge improvement compared even to two books ago, Fool Moon. The action sequencing was also a lot better. There wasn’t a dependency on Harry finding just a little more strength over and over again (or if there was, it was so minor I didn’t notice it), and it was doing gradual spikes, letting me breath and absorb after a huge rush of action, but still staying strong enough that I didn’t have the urge to put down the book.

As a slight warm-up to the rant, two things. First, the world-building took a step back. Even though the focus was primarily on the fairy, there were so many different aspects of it being thrown at us, I would have been completely lost if I wasn’t used to managing my own spawn of characters. I understand the hugeness of the Nevernever and the fairy that Butcher was going for, but since so few of the previous books had much to do with the fairies aside from a couple very specific people, we as readers got lost. There almost needed to be another book between this great war set up and the last one to help ease us into the fairies better.

And the side characters. Lord, there were a lot more than usual thrown at us, and we had to keep up with a lot of them without many tags to go off of. Billy was an interesting character to bring back, but I wasn’t sure he served as good of a balance to Dresden as Michael did. Maybe because Billy is so gun-ho about being beside Harry instead of advising caution in some cases. It was frustrating, since Dresden tends to jump into things headfirst. And the various members of the White Council–including Dresden’s second teacher–were just…paper dolls that had words to say and otherwise weren’t really as influential as you would think they are since they earned names and vague descriptions.

Mentioning side characters gets us into the rant. I about said, “Screw it,” and announced that this was going to be the last book I reviewed in this series, that’s how frustrated I was about this book. For those who read last week’s post, I was begging for a strong female character to balance out Dresden, even citing that Murphy had potential, if Butcher wanted to go that way. And with a book featuring so many fairy characters, many female, there was a chance for this to happen, maybe even with human characters as the book went on.

It started off bad. The first Winter Queen that Dresden meets is described in nothing but sexual metaphors. Now, whether this is supposed to be comments on her fae nature, I don’t know, but the problem is at first, she is a mortal woman. A potential client. And Dresden is so blase about the fact that he looks at her in a sexual way, despite the fact that he is supposed to be fretting himself to death over his ex-girlfriend.  Then Mab goes all fairy, and that appears to be the end of it. But she is only the beginning. Every single fairy is described the same way, making them into sex objects rather than actual characters.

These are the fairies, and I’ve already said he has problems with them in Grave Peril. That should be the end of it, right? Not too bad? Oh no. Because now we meet the mysterious Elaine from Dresden’s past. We’d gotten enough of an idea of her over the course of the last two books, but much like the ending of the previous book, a lot of that is thrown under the rug with what appears is going to be the Butcher equivalent of the DnD phrase, “A wizard did it.” And again, she is described as a sex object. Which I guess I am supposed to excuse because she and Harry used to have a relationship? Yeah, that doesn’t fly for me. I’ve put up with the stupid version chivalry that Dresden follows (which isn’t the real version, I would know), but this is enough to take the cake.

Oh yeah, speaking of that form of chivalry. Remember Murphy? The potentially powerful female character who I had my hopes pinned on for her being a good balance to Dresden once she got brought completely into the loop? Shot to friggin’ dust bunny HELL in this book. Not literally, but I’m beginning to see signs that Butcher is going to utterly wreck her and there is nothing I can do but whine about it (so I shall). The Murphy we’d met in all the previous books wouldn’t mix drugs and alcohol. And while she might struggle with things that go bump in the night after the previous book, she’s seen too much over the last few months with Harry to completely fall apart like she has in this book. Butcher tries to bring her back during a shoot-out in Wal-Mart, but it doesn’t work for me. She shouldn’t have fallen that hard in the first place, and now that she has, I bet he’s going to just make it worse.

At this point in the series, there is no arguing that you can pick up a book and understand them completely. They are starting to rely too much on the reader reading the previous books to know about the events Dresden has faced recently. Which, with a long-running series, I guess I shouldn’t be too upset about him making it (sort of) to Book 4 before reaching this point. But then I think of several series that I’ve read over the years that manage it for much longer, so… I don’t think I can. Here’s on to the next. Hopefully I can keep these reviews going.

By they way, thank you all for being patient on this post. My wrist needed to be iced down before I could even write the announcement yesterday. And then again before I could go to sleep. Hopefully the new brace I ordered will help it from continuing to be a problem.

Review: The Dresden Files 3–Grave Peril

I’ll honest, I was not seeing the draw of this series. I now stand corrected. While there were some things about it that still bugged me, this third book has changed my mind.

Grave Peril picks up at a break-necking speed with Harry Dresden and a new character, Michael. The supernatural world is all stirred up, and it’s up to Harry and his Knight friend to figure out why. But things get complicated with not one but THREE vampire courts meeting, and Harry’s girlfriend Susan getting herself nose-deep in trouble again. Harry has to gamble with the forces of the Nevernever to return peace to Chicago, but in the end, he has to pay a price.

(Any more info, and I will spoil you, I’m sorry.)

Butcher has finally figured out that focusing on a short handful of magical aspects makes the story so much easier to understand. Ghosts were the newcomers this time, with some old stuff being focused on more heavily (vampires, fairies, and the power of faith). As a result, I was absolutely able to track what was going on where. Even the true-sight aspect was given some nice extra attention. I love the image of Murphy the Avenging Angel. The explanation of the Nevernever was still a little shaky, but since most of the focus was put on the ghosts and the vampires, I was able to chill about that, since it wasn’t the focus. The pacing was smoother, with a few moments of non-action to let the reader’s mind reset. There are some issues with the endings (I’m getting real sick of Harry finding a little more strength, and then a little more, and then a little more), but I’m hoping we’re starting to see the end of that.

For characters, I started to understand Harry a little better in this book. I was able to get under the sarcasm and actually see the character, which is much better. His fairy godmother was also a piece of work, and I liked how she was played. On the other hand, though, I felt like she was a little flat. I think she could use some fleshing out if she’s going to reappear in later books. Susan has always annoyed me, and while she got better in this book, I still don’t think much of her or the way she has been written into this book. She’s built to be rescued, and even now, after all the crap that happened to her in this book, I’m not sure if that is going to change.

Michael was the star of this book. He reminded us of the human side, both to Harry and to the conflicts going on. Harry is so dismissive of Murphy and Susan, it’s hard to keep the humanity of it all in perspective. Michael was a welcome change, and I loved the interactions between him and Harry. Mostly because at times, my own feelings about religion are echoed in the text, and that’s a great personal connection for me. But unlike Harry, who has only a few friendships left, Michael has a family that he has to worry about being in danger. He’s down to Earth, and has no real knowledge of the wizard-side of things, which makes Harry explain more, which I have to appreciate.

Flaws wise, they were minor this time. The pacing, and my disgust with Harry’s seemingly endless sources of energy, have been noted. I am hoping the treatment of women gets better too. Three books in, and all the main female characters we’ve met so far are…not that great. Murphy has potential, but we’ve yet to see it realized. But the rest? They are either sex objects for Harry to romance and rescue (I don’t care that he said he loved her in this book, it doesn’t change what she is), completely helpless, supposedly decent but of course no where NEAR as powerful as Harry and thus they are going to end up dead, or they are a member of the cruel and selfish fairies/insert random evil creature-race here. Just ONE powerful female figure that isn’t sexualized or trivialized by Harry, that’s all I ask…

Unlike the second book, I didn’t feel like this third book relied on the previous two for the reader to understand everything. There were a couple of things that could have used a little more fleshing out for a first time reader (Bob wasn’t as clear as he could have been, as far as his existence and such were concerned). But really, I wish I had picked up this book FIRST. It would have made getting through the other two that much easier. Butcher seems to have figured out what the style for the series is going to be, so I hope the next couple of books smooth out the last couple of major flaws and keep improving the areas of once-weakness.

Just as a head’s up, next week’s post might be slightly late. Not so much because of book availability (I’ve already requested a hold and should have it by Monday), but my right wrist and the wonders of carpel tunnel syndrome have caught up with me. I’m fine most of the time with it, just occasionally it will get sore and hard to use. I’m going to ice it for the next few nights while I’m sleeping and wear my brace during the day, so hopefully it won’t be an issue. I just wanted to give you a warning in case the post happens in the mid-afternoon instead of the morning.

Review: The Dresden Files 2–Fool Moon

And the writer slides in with the review at the last second… Now I know to check online to see if my library has all the books. On with the review!

Fool Moon picks up right where Storm Front left off. Sort of. The book actually picks up shortly afterwards, and things haven’t been looking up for Harry. He’s living on ramen noodles, and regretting the falling-out of his relationship with Detective Murphy (and the resulting lack of a paycheck). But a series of murders require his attention again, especially with the threat of jail over his head alongside Murphy losing her job. The suspect seems to be obvious, but as always where a wizard is involved, things get complicated fast. Harry also has to come to terms with some parts of himself, and that isn’t comfortable. Especially if those facts have to do with the parents he’s never met.

There was a lot going on in this plot. Butcher included not one but several different kinds of werewolves, a fact I liked. While I haven’t done much research into it myself, I am friends with a fellow writer who is working on her own werewolf series, and she did a lot research to come up with her mythos (I just got to be the sounding board). The different types resonated with all the research she’s thrown at me over the last few years, and I loved Bob’s irritation with Harry during the discussion. Some of that was also a clever way of hiding info-dumping, to which I say… Meh. It sorta worked? I knew what it was, but it didn’t bug me. I also loved the way the demon-summoning happened in this book and the way it relayed information, again, working to keep the info-dumping interesting, and in this case helping flesh out the rules of the world.

I also liked the conversation between Harry and his subconscious while he was asleep, and later the echoes of that when he puts on his new coat. That is the sort of imagery and subtle plating I love in stories. I hope it means there is more to this little talk, that there might be something bigger behind it. We also got some more information on Harry’s back story, which was well needed after the first book. Elaine was an interesting addition, and the issues with what Harry might or might not know about his parentage sparked my interest. But then, back stories are my addiction. I love them, and hate when writers skim on them. The struggle between Harry and the dark parts of his personality I thought were a brilliant touch, and I hope he continues to flesh those out.

There was an improvement with the world, as I said earlier with the demon, and Harry’s character description. It felt better to me, maybe because we weren’t dealing with so many sources of magic and I was able to focus on one part of it and really get it. I hope that trend continues. As for Harry’s description, it wasn’t included as part of the description of another character, which I think is why it didn’t stick to me last time. I think Murphy’s description took over and so I got hers because of the re-enforcement of her traits and tags, but his didn’t get repeated, so I lost it. This time, his description stood out on its own, so I was able to keep it. I wish it could be reinforced a little more often, but I know how hard that is with first-person.

On to the problems. The first…there was a lot of stuff going on in this book. I know, I’m repeating myself, but it needs said again. I had issues with the pacing of this one.  It was constantly going from about the second chapter. The first book, at least we eased into the high pace and by then, I stopped caring. This one threw me into the roller coaster right off the gate, and I hate that. Seriously. Because then it has to keep rushing, keep getting faster and faster and faster. And by that point, any connection between characters is getting lost. We didn’t see enough of Carmichael in this book to mourn his death, and we certainly didn’t see enough of the FBI agents to hate them before suddenly, “Oh look, another set of killers!” Butcher had a lead foot in this one, and it was too much for me.

In addition, I felt like so much got thrown at the wall, but we didn’t spend enough time on it for the reader to appreciate it. On one hand, you want the reader eager to read the next page, desperate to know that next bit of information. This time, though, there was that lack of feeling of satisfaction. Harry often felt the click of information falling into place like a puzzle this book. But the information for the reader hadn’t even been offered long enough for us to understand and accept it to add to what was going on, so we couldn’t feel that satisfaction with him as Harry put it together. On one hand, you don’t want your protagonist to be stupider than your reader and figure it out before them. But you don’t want to out-smart the reader, and I’m afraid Harry is rapidly approaching this. It’s a fixable mistake in later books, so we’ll see…

The final problem was… Oh dear Lord, this is the second book. It relies on the reader having read the first book, though at least not the worst I’ve seen of books that do that. It did eventually explain why Murphy and Harry were at odd-ends, and if you’d read the first book, you knew what all the little flashes were throughout the rest of the book. But to a new reader, they would have been confusing and there wasn’t enough information given to really explain it. Murphy and the issues with her got beaten like a rug over and over again, but the rest? Not enough. But over all, I would rather the pacing be slowed down for attention paid to the different wolf parts of the plot than to rehash the first book.

Review: The Dresden Files 1–Storm Front

Strap in folks, because this is going to be a long one. And in that, I meant that this is the first in a long series of reviews. That’s right, I’m doing all the Dresden File books, with breaks to talk about writing and RPG as always.

Storm Front follows Harry Dresden as he goes from struggling to make his rent to suddenly being the center to too much attention as a series of murders start across Chicago. Why is he involved? Because Harry is a wizard (save the Harry Potter jokes, please), and not only does he consult with the police on any murder where magic is a likely culprit like now, but he has been hired by a woman to find her husband, who has been dabbling in magical forces. To make everything more complicated, Harry’s past lurks over his head and could take his life if he puts a toe out of line. Almost literally. And then the mob is involved. Some days, it obviously doesn’t pay to get out of bed.

Not that Harry gets to see his bed much in this book. The pacing is pretty rapid-fire, and is constantly going. And snowballing. It was one of the strongest parts of the story, since it made it hard to put the book down. Some of that was the very nature of what the character did professional. PIs (which is basically what Harry was in this book) allow a writer to constantly throw stuff at them. What made it impressive was how everything dovetailed together. It is completely possible to have a sub plot that doesn’t go anywhere thrown into a PI-type plot, but this time it actually worked well with the main plot and kept feeding the tension instead of distracting from it.

Another thing well done was Harry’s interaction with other characters. The descriptions were great, especially from a first-person view point since they showed some of Harry’s personality as well as what they were looking for (I’m a sucker for a two-for). We saw him not only in direct, physical conflict with people, but with intellectual conflict, even with people that he liked. It was also great to see a non-romantic relationship between the male character and the female. Harry had a healthy, sisterly relationship with Murphy, and if it develops into a romance later on in this series, I might cry in frustration unless it is done just right.

Enough of the virtues, though. I did have a couple of problems with this book that I could technically forgive, but on the other hand, I can’t. One is the lack of a mental image I have of Harry. This is my big problem with first-person view point books. It is so difficult to get the details of what he looks like out, and out quickly. As a result, I know Harry’s personality, I know his history, I even know his powers and magical abilities. But I’m really spotty on what he looks like, mostly because it took him so long to get that information to us. To a certain extent, you can rely on cover art, but then you have people who get the bad luck to get the end of the cover art budget so the protagonist looks like the exact opposite of your character. It’s something that’s a struggle with any book, and in this case it just showed for me.

The other problem I had was the world. At first, I blamed this on the fact I’ve never left a set little area in Oklahoma/Texas with a couple of exceptions. Chicago was as foreign to me as Paris or London would be to anyone else. But then I realized that Chicago had very little to do with the problems I was having, since I’m pretty good at adapting to new cultural norms/landmarks. The problem was the magic. In some cases, I got enough information that I understood it, and sometimes the lack of details made sense because you can’t dump everything into a book. But overall, my feeling for the fantasy of the world is pretty disjointed. We’ve got fae, we’ve got the standard wizard stuff, we’ve got a few twists on the traditional. I’m not saying it didn’t work completely, but I feel like it could have been smoother.

Over all… It was the first book in a series. It was capable of standing alone, but it could be extended upon easily. Some aspects of it were clumsy, and the obvious hints that there were going to be more to this story sort of bothered me, but that’s me. I like each book to be it’s own little thing, and leaving little hints just annoys me if they are too overt. I’ve learned from several reliable sources that the series gets better as it progresses, so I’m hopeful for the series as a whole. I just wished there weren’t so many obvious, “Here, I’m going to mention this really important thing…and then not talk about it so you’ll read the second book.”

Major Crimes Review

(Sorry I derped and forgot to do this last week. I’m going to try and get a second post up in a couple of days to make up for it.)

I’ve been watching The Closer since it first premiered. I missed the first couple of episodes, but was able to jump right into it anyway, the  mark of a good series in my opinion. I loved the main character and how she was able to be feminine but still do her job as a deputy chief. At the same time, she wasn’t a flat character, full of quirks and personality that made her into a real person. The rest of the division was the same way. Throughout the growth of the series, they developed into a real story, the kind of series that could go on for ages without interruption.

I’m not sure why Kyra Sedgewick (the woman playing the main character, Brenda Johnson) decided to leave the show, or what exactly happened. But I was willing to at least give the spin-off, Major Crimes, a chance. Raydor as a character had slightly redeemed herself in the last season (maybe as the first steps towards this spin-off from the very beginning?) to the point I thought I could tolerate her, even if I still hated the slime ball Taylor, no matter how they tried to redeem him. But the first season is over, we’re starting the second, and it’s time my opinion was formed.

The lead in to the new series was very strong. It felt seamless, perhaps because they were airing right after the final episode of The Closer. We even gained a couple of new characters throughout the season, starting with a new detective, Sykes, and more of the rotating Deputy D.A.s that this series was becoming known for, none of them extremely likeable. Raydor and Johnson were completely different, as shown from the beginning. Raydor knows how to play the politics, she knows how to manipulate but in a slightly different way, and unlike Brenda, she cares about convictions, not confessions. Sykes was an odd fit, as she should be, but I thought her character added an interesting change to the dynamics in the squad.

Sadly, everything after that fell really flat to me. Raydor and Rusty tried to duplicate some of the drama that Johnson had in her home life, with their own flavor. But I don’t know if it’s because Sedgewick’s amazing performance in the final season just set an impossible bar, or if they were pushing a character to do something that she just couldn’t do, but Raydor, aside from a few instances where she finally stopped playing political chessmaster and acting like a human being, just felt like watching a robot to me. And the endings lacked the level of satisfaction that The Closer did. Johnson only cared about the truth, and the episode always led to that truth. Instead, Major Crimes focuses on the actual legal system, and what happens behind the scenes.

But more than anything else… The show is lacking in personality. Oh, there are bits of it. Flynn and Provenza haven’t changed, and are definitely memorable, and combined with Sykes they make a dynamic clash. But aside from those few moments, it’s like every other crime show. The quirks and over-saturation of personality isn’t there anymore, to the point I can rarely tell episodes apart anymore, even though I used to always know with a few seconds. It all blends into a moderately boring shade of gray.

I’m not saying it’s a bad show. If there is nothing else on, I’ll watch it. But usually I find myself searching for just about anything else to watch, even reruns of Fast n’ Loud that I’ve seen so many times I can almost quote it word for word.

New Story: The Last Guardians 2–Guardian Proving

Currently Working On:
World-building the lands of Eresith
Formatting Guardians Ascending for Kindle

Yep, the Spiral City world has a name. The world is Saveer, the continent is Eresith, though it’s a bit like Europe since there’s another part of the continent that I haven’t touched yet, and I know for a fact it has a land-bridge to yet another continent. I may even have a map after this week. ^_^

In other news, the second part of The Last Guardians is up on Kindle! And this one has a much more impressive cover page, thanks to the amazing artist on deviantart, the user noblestallion. I love commissioning her for work, she does amazing pictures. This is the first time she’s done a city scape, but I wouldn’t have known it. (If ANYONE cripes about it being “too perfect,” please remember that this is the Upper Circle, the place that prides itself on being near-perfect.)

For the second story, I knew it had to focus on Liv. But like I said in the first book, she is so passive, it was hard to get her to take the step forward. Which gave me the idea that maybe something needed to happen to give her the initiative to do things herself. So I knew she needed a crime or criminal to deal with that required logical thought and examination of evidence, what she brings to hers and Mai’s partnership, which is how I came to an arsonist.

A character I unexpectedly brought back in was Sul. He was name-dropped in the first story, but I honestly didn’t expect him to reappear…I didn’t even know he was a him to begin with! But he was a fun character to flesh out, especially his different relationships between Mai and Liv respectively. Liv’s grandmother was also a piece of work. Liv herself though was the biggest surprise. She had so much going on, and how she felt about her partnership with Mai and being a guard surprised me. I don’t know if some of it was her getting a couple of years under her belt between this one and the previous story, or if it was just learning more about her, but I became just as attached to her as I am to Mai and Ava.

The Last Guardians: Guardian Proving on Kindle

New Story: The Last Guardians 1–Guardian Seeking

Currently working on:
Getting the world-building for the Spiral City and surrounding areas organized
Getting Guardian Proving formatted for Kindle

Thought I’d start sticking that *points up* in here so you all know what I’m up to. But yes, the first of the Last Guardians trilogy is up on Kindle! *happy dance* Okay, the cover art is temporary, I’m still waiting on the “official” stuff I paid for. I’m still excited for the story to be up. It’s the first in this world, but there’s a LOT that’s going to happen in it.

The story really started with the idea of the city. I loved the idea of a city being so isolated, and so physically divided that it became socioeconomic as well. (See my world building post for more about this process.) From there, the idea came around for the main character, and with the help of my short story professor, Mel Odom, her motivation for going after the serial killer. Mai was such a strong personality, I knew I had to have someone to balance her, which is where Liv came from. A rookie, awkward in her role, I didn’t know a lot about her in this story, but I knew there was a story to her, but I’d have to dig for it and I didn’t have the time for it at the moment. But she helped pull Mai back from being a complete maniac, and slowed her down, as well as showcasing elements of the culture that Mai tends to disregard…Mai is not a polite person.

Writing Mai’s story didn’t feel like any kind of work–and it is definitely Mai’s story. It literally poured out, and I had to force myself to take breaks for important things like food and water. The only thing that kept biting me in the butt for a couple of drafts was the ending. I had a hard time not setting the story up for the trilogy or changing character point of views. Thank God for Mel, who helped straighten me out and get an ending that worked. He also was instrumental in pointing out other slight problems that I didn’t notice while writing it, but would throw a reader off.

Overall, I’m very proud of this story, and that it’s the beginning of my introduction to this world. Mai is the kind of protagonist I like to put out there, strong but flawed, human but willing to go to extraordinary measures for what she believes in. The fact she’s female is just a bonus. 😛 A really, really big bonus.

The Last Guardian: Guardian Seeking on Kindle